I have been a lot of places since I’ve started my job with Weather Central (Dothan, AL > Cedar Rapids, IA > Green Bay, WI > Moline, IL > Philadelphia, PA > Cincinnati, OH > Harrisburg, PA > Altoona, PA > Orlando, FL > Beckley, WV > Atlanta, GA > Tulsa, OK > Quincy, IL > Palm Springs, CA > Denver, CO > Cleveland, OH > Wichita, KS > Bristol, VA > New York, NY > Charlottesville, VA — I think I got them all from memory), but my best trip has got to be my adventure to San Juan, Puerto Rico!
I was only there for seven days, but I definitely made the most of my time while in San Juan.
I arrived late on a Thursday night after my first-class flight to the island and took Friday to get the lay of the land. I did have some time to find a geocache, continuing my streak of finding one in each city I visit for work. I also set up my plans for Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday started dark and early… at 4:45 AM. I had to be at the meeting place by 5:45 AM for my adventure into the Caves of Camuy. The caves are the home of bats, scorpions, big spiders, crabs, and a large underground river. After getting outfitted at our breakfast stop, we proceeded to the caves where our tour guides took us through the basics of operating a carabiner and the rest of our gear. After our brief tutorial, we were on our way into the forest. Our adventure started with a few zip lines before reaching a point where the zip lines just end. Yup, there’s nowhere to go but down… straight into the mouth of the cave. To get there, you must rappel. The whole trip from top to bottom is about 125 feet!
Once inside, we ditched our harnesses and put on life jackets. From here, we followed our guides through the cave and eventually into the river. Strong swimming skills weren’t needed, but knowing how to swim definitely helped. Throughout our (guessing about 3 hour) cave adventure, we jumped from rocks, jumped in pitch darkness, raced through shoe-sucking mud, and even had lunch in the cave. Once we made our way back out, we were in for a climb to the top. Using rebar steps and our reacquired harnesses, we made our way back to the top of the cave and eventually back to the start where we cleaned up and boarded the bus back to San Juan proper. The adventure was AMAZING! Although it was $175, it was well worth the money (and getting up so early). It was great to meet some new friends during this trip, as well.
On Sunday, I spent the day exploring the only rainforest in a U.S. territory… El Yunque. The rainforest is about an hour or so away from the city of San Juan, but it was definitely worth the trip. During my time there, I ended up hiking to the top of the El Yunque Trail and was literally in a cloud. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see out to the ocean. It was still a great hike, nonetheless. While at the
top, I met a girl from Milwaukee and her Puerto Rican friend (Kate and Roberto). I spent the rest of the day with them as we drove back down the hill to La Mina Falls. This is a popular hangout in the warm season for Puerto Ricans and tourists alike. The falls empty into a small pool of pretty chilly water (at least in December). We all braved the cold water and spent a little time UNDER the waterfall! After a hike out of the rainforest, it was time to head back to the city.
I did have to work from Monday through Thursday, but I made time on Tuesday to go to the bioluminescent bay (bio bay) . This adventure involved a 2-mile round trip kayak paddle out into a bay from the ocean where millions upon millions of bioluminescent plankton live. What’s so special about these plankton is that when anything moves in the water, they light up. It was a cool sight to see when moving my hand and even the paddle through the water. (Sorry, there are no pictures of this because it is too difficult to capture.)
Be sure to take a look at the pictures from my trip here.
Overall, the trip was amazing and I would love to go back to the islands to have more adventures. I never would have been able to do this if it wasn’t for my job at Weather Central… or is it WSI… or maybe The Weather Channel… either way, I’ll sort that out in my #2 item of the Top 7 of 2012.